Sunday, March 27, 2011

Small Sacrifices

I wanted to set a good example for the kids that I help teach in preconfirmation class at church. I gave up drinking soda for Lent. Doesn't sound like much of a sacrifice does it? In the scheme of life, it isn't. We all vowed to give something up. This isn't a religion lesson, but our small sacrifices are to remind us of what Jesus gave up for us. So back to the soda. I know that I have been drinking too much soda lately. It isn't the healthiest drink for you. It is expensive. And man, is my recycling bin filling up week after week. Crazy! Mostly from soda cans. So I decided that this would be the thing that I would give up for the forty days of Lent.

Not to be melodramatic, but the first few days were a nightmare for me. I wanted a soda. Everyone was drinking soda. Everywhere I looked there was a can, or a bottle staring at me. I think there were a few times I actually thought the cans were speaking to me. They were saying, "come on, Ann, no one is looking. It's ok. It's just ONE soda." Tempting for sure. For eight days I resisted. But on day nine, I slipped. I'll set the scene for you. I was about to punch the time clock at work. I had a splitting headache. Couldn't shake it all morning. A coworker suggested taking Tylenol with a soda chaser. This will help the medicine get into your system faster, she said. Well, for medicinal purposes, I took her advice. I fell off the wagon. I felt guilty about this. I did. But on a positive note, my headache did go away. When you work with 500 plus kids in a lunchroom and at recess, this is so necessary.

Home I went. I was feeling bad about my slip but I knew I would get over it. I'm human and I'm not perfect. So later that day we were out for dinner and I ordered a soda. Shoot. How easy it was for me to slip into an old habit. I finished that soda and vowed it wouldn't happen again. I've tried to remain loyal to my promise and after the unfortunate day of the headache and the absentmindedness, I have actually remained true to my word. Here's the thing. Even when I did have the soda, it didn't taste that great to me. Not like it had in the past.

Will I drink soda again? Oh, I know that I will. Will it taste good. Oh, yes it will. But to prove to myself that I can do something for forty days (almost) and be better for it? Simply priceless.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, March 21, 2011


Picture this. There is a woman walking down the street with two dogs. In one hand she has two leashes. In the other hand she is balancing the bag for what the dogs are about to do and a squirt bottle. The squirt bottle is for the one dog that is being trained to not bark at anything that moves. She has tried voice commands and positive reinforcement with treats for this dog, but to no avail. So after a little reading, she decides on the squirt bottle. One quick little pull of the trigger on the bottle when the dog barks and this stops the unnecessary barking. The mere presence of this bottle on walks is working at this point.

This woman is feeling quite proud of herself. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the birds are singing. She hears the things that you can hear when it is quiet. Birds are chirping and there is the serene sound of trees blowing in the gentle breeze. Life is good. Really good. And then they turn the corner. The woman's cell phone rings. She answers. And in the same exact moment a person with three dogs rounds the corner coming right at her. These are big dogs. The woman's are moderately sized dogs. Her dogs start barking. The three other dogs start barking. The woman with the two dogs is still on the cell phone and is trying to end the conversation. She drops the phone. She still has a handle on the almighty squirt bottle though! Squirt, squirt. Doesn't work with this much distraction.

Then the woman bends down to pick up her cell phone. In the process of doing this her dogs have chosen that moment to run circles around her. Because the afore mentioned dogs have leashes the length of horse leads, no really, they are made of horse lead rope. They have been in the family for over 15 years. Guaranteed to never break. Anyway, I digress. So the dogs have wrapped or tangled their owner in their leashes so badly that it looks like she's been wrapped up like a mummy. Now what to do? Definitely in a pickle. Cell phone on the ground. Squirt bottle has no power. Tied up like a mummy. And at this point the other dog owner passes by and says, "aren't these spring-like days so peaceful and quiet?"

Well, the walk started out that way. Quiet and peaceful. So when the woman with three big dogs passes on the sidewalk, the woman with two dogs shifts into recovery mode. First unwrap the leashes from around her legs. Pick up the cell phone. And the squirt bottle. She asks the dogs to sit and they do. She rewards them with a treat. It is important for this woman to let her dogs know that she's still the one in charge. Yeah, right. And they finish their walk.

Was the walk all that they had hoped for? Not exactly. Was it funnier than funny? Most definitely. This woman entered her house after the walk and was about to turn on music, when instead she decided to just open the window. And let the quiet in.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Your family has them. So does mine. I'm talking reunions. There is always food and drink. There are lively discussions. There are lots of moments of laughter. Lots. There are some heated discussions over politics and religion. There are bets on who's team will make it to the playoffs. All of us have these types of gatherings.

We've had a gathering like this for the past several weeks in Madison. A reunion of sorts. We had it at the biggest house. The one that holds the most people. The house with the biggest yard. To accommodate the most people. The Capitol. Our house. We met some family we hadn't met before. We found out that even though we come from different walks of life and may have different views on things, we really are mostly the same.

It was great to see everybody. The uncles, the aunts, the cousins, the young and the old alike. Everyone was welcome. Even the ones that didn't quite fit in. They were welcomed and appreciated. And sometimes there was a sigh of relief when they left. But we were all polite to one another. The way a family should be.

There was music and entertainment. There were some tears as stories were told. And immediately after the tears were comforting words. Words of hope. We rallied around each other in support. Because that's what families do for one another. So now our family has received some bad news. We will rise above this. Why? Because that's what we do. We grieve for the loss and look to the future. We will make the best of life. We will forge on.

These reunions are tricky things. But when they are planned well and attended well, a sense of belonging is felt by all. And a united group of people can really make things happen. That's what is so beautiful about families. Whether it is your immediate family, your church family, your work family or humankind family. Great things happen when great people work together. And I, for one, am looking forward to our next reunion!

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Sunday, March 6, 2011


You know how much I love words. This is a great one, don't you think? Fluidity. The action of smooth flow. There is so much in life that is fluid. The other day I was driving and my girl told me I was a smooth driver. What do you mean? I asked. She said she could hardly feel me changing my foot from the brake to the gas pedal. It was a smooth ride she said. I, of course, said thank you. There is so much in life that is fluid. Have you ever been at a house after a funeral? Or at a church gathering that includes a meal? The way people work together and set up, serve a meal and clean up is fluid. Almost second nature. Have you seen a group of women standing around and one is holding a baby? The baby starts to fuss and the mom will rock back and forth from one foot to another to calm the child. Look around at the rest of the ladies in the group. Chances are that you'll see others doing the same thing even though they are not holding a baby. It's natural.

This brings me to another type of fluidity. For the past several weeks Madison, WI, has been adapting to a new situation. You all know the details of the announcement made by Scott Walker to not only decrease benefits of state workers, but to take away their bargaining rights. This will make a difference for my immediate family with both my husband's job and I'm fairly sure mine, too. This is not going to be comfortable for us. But we have a plan and we have faith. We are not as worried as some. And we are part of a community that cares for one another. Over the past few weeks we have made our voices heard by our presence at protests. Scott (my husband) spoke inside the Capitol to the crowds of people. What an honor that was for him. We are proud of his voice and what he said.

The crowds have been amazing. The numbers are in the thousands. Even 100,000 a couple of weekends ago. More amazing has been the general concern for each other. Strangers will bring your child water and a granola bar. A person you have never met before will strike up a conversation with you. In the course of talking you discover different backgrounds. We're from different political parties. But guess what? We all seem to know what unfairness is. We walk together. We talk together. We celebrate our differences. And our similarities. We may never cross paths again. But for that brief time that we spend together we are fluid in the fact that we are for the same cause. It's really a lot simpler than many would want you to believe.

So whether it is the rising and setting of the sun. Or the routines we all find in our regular every day schedules. I wish all of you the ability to find comfort in the fluidity of life this week.

© 2011 Ann M. De Broux